Manzanilla Entusiástica in Zalamero Taberna

Just look at the colour of that manzanilla – en rama and a year or so in the bottle and it is a lovely dark straw colour. Rich and mulchy on the nose too and a nice sweet/savoury character to it on the palate: hints of juicy sweetness at the start, then zing and savory, bready flavours in the middle and a salty fresh finish.

This is a really interesting wine – the first ecological manzanilla and as such a brand new solera when the wines were first released in 2016. If I am reading the codes right this wine appears to have been bottled at the end of 2016 and it has really gained from that time in the bottle. Maybe lost some floral notes but has broadened out on the palate (almost like a palomino white wine) and all the better for it.

Nice one.

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Solear en rama winter 2017- the Marsh Harrier

Has warmed up in Madrid of late and out for a stroll I found myself in need of a pit stop. As luck would have it, I was in the vicinity of Surtopia, a spot which is never short of the good stuff.

And this is very good stuff: the seasonal saca of the legendary Solear. This edition has all the characteristics of the legendary series. Gorgeous old gold colour, intense aromatics and powerful zing and flavours. The definition of an intense wine and for me the definition of an inland manzanilla (or manzanilla pasada if you must).

Superb stuff – I picked up two more to take home from a local retailer.

Solear en rama Autumn 2016 – the Little Bustard

Been a hard few days at the coalface and this is just the sort of pick-me-up a fellow needs.

Lovely aromas as soon as the cork popped out of the top of the bottle, a gorgeous old gold colour, buttery mouthfeel and creamy buttery flavours to it too. Really lush, even as it sizzles the saliva out of the old taste buds.

Just what I needed. Absolutely top drawer.

Manzanilla Gabriela in Zalamero Taberna

A beautiful sight, and I am not just referring to the skillful composition and masterful control of light and perspective in the photo. The beauty is in the centre of shot: the words “Viña Las Cañas, Pago Balbaina”. This sort of thing makes the old heart hum along with the band: I strongly believe that those that can put the vineyard’s name on the label should do so. (In fact without wanting to take too much credit I did in fact mention that it might be worth putting these details on the label when I met up with Sanchez Ayala back in September.)

More importantly, this is a classic manzanilla, pure, clean, fresh and crisp. About the most refreshing thing you could drink and still no push over. And a bargain, when you consider that you can buy the same wine at considerably higher prices under other labels.

 

Manzanilla Arboledilla Levante y Poniente

In my opinion Barbadillo don’t get the credit they deserve and I am not sure why. They produce quality wines across the range, the Solear en rama series is a masterpiece, Pastora is a gem and lately they have been producing some really interesting stuff: the Beta bubbly and Nude tintilla to start with but even more so their spikey, spicey white wine Mirabras and the cracking Zerej boxed sets.

And now these Arboledilla wines – which have been around for a while but which I only came across in Reserva y Cata recently. It is yet another fascinating project and an attempt to demonstrate the power of the “other terroir” – the bodega. Specifically, these are two manzanillas of the same age and from the same solera (the Solear en rama if I am not mistaken) which is housed in a famous old bodega called Arboledilla. What is fascinating about them is that one of the bottles – “Levante” (sunrise) – is taken from a butt at the Eastern extreme of the bodega, while the other – “Poniente” (sunset) – is taken from the Western end. The idea is to demonstrate the effects of small climactic differences within the bodega itself.

They are both zingy, high intensity manzanillas and the differences are pretty subtle. Having said that, you can definitely detect a sharper, finer and more vertical style in the Poniente (which I am guessing is the cooler end of the bodega), and a slightly richer, wilder style in the Levante, which certainly has a hint more sweetness on the nose.

Really interesting stuff and definitely worth trying (if you think about it the worst that can happen is that you end up with two bottles of a classic manzanilla).

#4GWFEST2018 – Part 4 – the Callejuela single vineyard manzanillas

There is just so much to like about Bodegas la Callejuela. It is hard to think of a more likeable couple of blokes than these big, friendly guys, and although at first glance they don’t look like the kind of hipsters you would imagine revolutionizing the scene in Jerez I can tell you noone is doing more than they are.

To start with they have a quality bodega with a really solid range of wines, from the unfortified blanco de hornillos via the manzanilla fina, manzanilla madura, manzanilla en rama, amontillado, and oloroso all the way up to the outstanding older wines, Blanquito, La Casilla and the unbelievable El Cerro (and the PX). But they are a lot more than a bodega with a good range. They are the source of the wine which, with the help of a touch of Ramiro Ibañez magic, has become one of the truly iconic projects of the new Jerez – the Manzanilla de Añada 2012 -, they were involved in the Manifesto 119 and have since launched a range of unfortified vineyard specific white wines that for me are really pitch perfect. These guys really get it.

I have already had the chance to write about their latest releases – first at the bar of the late, beloved Territorio Era, and later at an excellent event organized by Montenegro vinos. They are single vineyard manzanillas, and in fact they are also single vintage wines – from 2014-, although they are not able to market them as such since not all “i”s were dotted and “t”s crossed, so at the time I first wrote about them I called them something different. Anyway here they are, resplendent at the Cuatrogatos Wine Fest with their clear bottles (which I personally think is a quality touch), classy new labels and their official title of “manzanilla” (a reminder once again that although two of the three are from Jerez vineyards, what counts is where they are made into wine for these purposes).

And three quality wines too. The Callejuela (vineyard) is the most biological of the three with haybales on the nose, a touch more zing and a sharper profile. The Macharnudo is absolute class, with that aromatic and metallic mineral quality and an elegant, compact shape, while the Añina is even visibly more evolved, slightly oxidated, smooth but nevertheless fresh.

I find it very hard to choose between the three of them, I must admit. Perhaps I need to try them again!

 

 

Manzanilla madura Callejuela

The author was in need of refreshment after slogging his way across Madrid to Kulto for a bite to eat recently and this glass of manzanilla madura by the guys at Callejuela ticked the box.

This is the more serious of the two standard manzanillas (as opposed to the En Rama, the Añada and the exceptional Blanquito) and has slightly more weight behind it. As you can see it is a very slightly greenish gold in colour and it has a bit of that greenery on the nose: a little bit grassy and herby with maybe slightly older apples underneath.

On the palate it is sharp and fresh, with a zing of salinity then has some heft, with a slightly bitter apple flavour and leafy notes on top before a fresh, fluid finish.